South from Wrocław, and not far from this city (1h, the closest apart from Ślęża), is located a very interesting mountainous stripe for mountain biking, the Góry Sowie (Owl's mountains). The highest top and only one over 1000m is the eponym top Wielka Sowa ("Big Owl". There is also Kalenica, the next south, and then Malinowa).
Wielka sowa has a complex network of marked and well maintained trails, most of them for hiking and few for cycling, but almost all of them reasonnable and fun for mountain biking.
On the top of Wielka Sowa, where converge not less than 6 trails with a wooden gate for each, stands a beautiful wiew-tower (see the webcam !), and on the south side of the hill is located a wooden mountain-hut, one of the most beautiful and friendly in the Sudetes in my opinion, and where we can have a fresh beer or hot meal depending on the moment of the ride where we are :)
Since the area located between the two passes Przełęcz Walimska and Jurgowska Przełęcz is quite reduced, this trail makes the most of the area, using most of the possible trails and making zigzags, rather than making a simple straightforward ascent of the mountain.
The trail can be started at both of the passes, which have both guarded car parks, and make it equally interesting. However it is done anti-clockwise for both cases, some portions being ridden down only. I started it from Przełęcz Walimska, north, so let's start here.
From the car park starts a large trail marked with purple colour (quite unusual according to PTTK standards). This is indeed a historical trail, "Sebrna Droga", the "Silver trail", since there were mining activities long ago here. This trail elevates gently and after a while, describe a wide bypass on the west, to reach the south of the mountain.
At the junction with the red marked trail, it continues (to the mountain hut) but this is not the bit that interest us for the moment. We take the red left and start a very steep climb. As it reaches the yellow pedestrian trail, it turns right and become easier, and we reach the top passing the west wooden gate.
After a visit on the top of the tower, we take the red way south. Indeed there are two red trails but they join. We must follow the direction of the mountain hut "Sowa-Eulenbaude" (the region was once german and the hut built by them, this double name is a kind of tribute). Here starts the sharpest and most interesting descent of the ride, on steep and sometimes prominent rocks. Beware of not breaking the frame, like I probably did in this spot :)
At the Sowa hut, we choose the blue trail, leaving discretely the place behind the hut, not too visible. It takes us to Kozie Siodło, a wide clearing with trail junctions and picnic tables. From there, we can choose to finish the descent using the red pedestrial trail instead of the blue, which has become asphalt. After a little ski-lift, we reach the car park of Jurgowska Przełęcz.
Cycle down a bit to the north on the road to find the black trail going back to Kozie Siodło on another hillside, climbing steadily. Again at Kozie Siodło, let's follow the red trail heading to the top of Wielka Sowa again. Leave it when the yellow, coming across, takes you on the right to descend again NE. Again, a green trail that we catch left duging the descent (not marked on the terrain) bring us back to the red trail north from the mountain.
When we arrive to the open fields, instead of going straight to the road, take the direction of the houses and keep the track close to the forest edge, which makes avoiding a significant portion of the main road. Then we get back to the car park of the start.
From Wrocław, take the road 8 south to Kłodzko, and turn at Łagiewniki, and turn at Dzierżoniów. Circumvent the center by the north to take near the station the road 383 to Pieszyce. Depending on the trailhead we choose, we take the direction of Walim for pass Przełęcz Walimska or Nowa Ruda for pass Jurgowska Przełęcz.
From Czech republic, it is adviseable to take the direction of Trutnov and then Wałbrzych, and Przełęcz Walimska.
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When to Bike
Spring, summer, autumn.
The trails are quite OK concerning mud, thanks to the stones which cover it in many places you can ride it without problems after rainy weather.
The webcam on the tower is quite useful to have an idea of the conditions there before.